Celebrating Christmas in London and (a little way) beyond
Although we love to travel, we have always spent Christmas at home in England. Not for us the snowy ski slopes of the Alps, or the tropical shores of the Caribbean or Far East. Tempting as the latter sound, we save trips to warmer climes for February, when the long chilly season is really dragging. Christmas is a time for the comforts of home, and for family.
Gallery: Majolica, the ceramic tiles of Seville
Spain, along with its neighbour Portugal, is home to some of the most beautiful tilework in the world, and much of it originates in Seville. Or more accurately, in the Seville barrio of Triana. Known as Majolica, or sometimes Talavera, after the ceramic centre of Talavera de la Reina in Castilla, these tiles have been produced in this country for hundred of years. Made initially for churches and palaces, the art later spread to homes, adorning floors and walls.
A dhobi wallah in Fort Cochi, Kerala
At the Dhobi Khana in Fort Cochi, Kerala, nothing much has changed since the first Tamil dhobis were brought in by the Dutch Army 300 years ago to wash their uniforms. Today it is still operated by descendants of those original families, who live and work here as they have done for generations.
Meeting the locals in Narlai, Rajasthan
The village of Narlai in Rajasthan would be completely off the tourist track were it not for the hotel that has been created in the former hunting lodge of Jodhpur’s royal family. It is a small village which faces some of the same challenges as rural communities everywhere. Its population is declining as younger people drift away, tempted by big city life and its wider opportunities.
Gallery: Dining in (Japanese) style ~ kaiseki
A traditional Japanese feast, a kaiseki, is a thing of beauty. It isn’t just a meal; it’s an art form balancing taste, texture, appearance, and colour. The dishes are beautifully arranged and presented, on plates chosen to enhance the visual impact, and equally beautifully decorated, often with edible garnishes.
The Palio della Balestra in Gubbio: a centuries-old tradition
Gubbio took a little while to weave its spell on me. When I first started to explore it seemed simply an old and attractive Italian town perched invitingly on a hillside, like so many others. Then I attended the Palio, the festival of the crossbow fighters, a centuries-old tradition.